Saturday, April 14, 2007

raymond carver's junk drawer

The dust never settles. You find yourself saying you'll get around to the seemingly endless list of things you want or need to do "when the dust settles." You might not use the exact phrase. Maybe you say "when things slow down" or even "this weekend." Let's face it -- most of us live in a virtual dust storm. We work our asses off Monday through Friday then try to fit errands, social life, and down time into Saturday and Sunday. It's nearly impossible to accomplish the trifecta in a single weekend, so things inevitably get pushed to the next weekend, and by then the list has snowballed to the point where you might decide to bag the whole lot of it. Usually when that happens, I find myself drinking and smoking to forget about it, which leads to a guilty hangover during which I shuffle downstairs and remember that I still have not gotten around to organizing that kitchen junk drawer.

The bane of my existence, that junk drawer, in all of its cluttered glory, is laughing at me this very moment. It has transcended the basic essence of clutter to become a symbol of so much chaos and madness in my life. Also this very moment, the Jackal is upstairs napping while mommy is out shopping. (If he wakes up, I will lose my train of thought, and this post will become another incomplete fragment in my so called life.) So this is the perfect opportunity for me to tackle that mess, to give it the boot and move on to the next thing. Instead I sit here blogging about it.

Raymond Carver was a brilliant writer. Pick up a copy of Where I'm Calling From if you want evidence. You won't be disappointed. He was also good at alcoholism. Shocker, huh? A profound author drinks too much. It's almost cliche', isn't it? Aware and accepting of his parameters, consisting of kids and the regular responsibilities of adult life, he stuck with short stories -- he did not have much time for novels or lengthy works -- and painted some of the most accessible slices of life I've ever read. I think about that aspect of Carver constantly, and today I find myself wondering if junk drawers ever haunted him. Maybe that's part of the reason he hit the bottle so hard -- life maintenance getting in the way of living life. Okay, probably not, but you have to assume day-to-day matters fell into the landscape of his existence. I mean, writers do not live Hollywood celebrity lifestyles by any stretch. The craft doesn't tend to pay much, so it's not like they have butlers buying their groceries or wiping their asses.

Let me make one thing clear -- I am not comparing myself to Carver. His literary accomplishments dwarf anything I could hope for, and his vices mixed with the likes of John Cheever. I have not published anything worth a warm cup of piss or hit the bottle with any literary icons. Still, I can relate to his need to employ brevity due to life circumstances.

My hot list for the weekend looks something like this:

-back up all music and picture files
-unpack 20 boxes and finish moving into new house
-hang pictures so the new house looks "lived in"
-construct Jack's toy box
-buy groceries
-measure windows for blinds
-clean Cholo's fish bowl (Jack named him that,fyi)
-pay bills
-pick up dry cleaning

Okay, I won't bore you further with that or pretend it's interesting. The truth is that making the list might be the most productive thing I do this weekend. I fully expect life to get in the way of most of it. Actually, I don't want to tackle any of it, so I hope for a detour or seven.

Speaking of which, I hear the Jackal calling out to me now. Sorry, junk drawer, it's not going to happen today. I feel a Muppet Movie viewing coming on...

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